Titled after a quote by the French poet Paul Valéry, the current group exhibition at Postmasters gallery presents close to twenty projects that have been conceptually and formally shaped by the internet. The web is used both as the participating artists’ source of inspiration, as well as the medium itself. Most notable are the two videos by Eva and Franco Mattes (0100101110101101.org) who have reenacted pivotal performance works by the duos Gilbert & George and Marina Abramovic & Ulay in the online game Second Life. By default, the resulting videos are highly entertaining, as random avatars attempt to navigate around the awkward “performers.” Other artists have replaced the camera and paintbrush with images sourced from the web, as evident in Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung’s digital collages. On view are four of his new works that feature members of the Obama administration as the saviors of the economy, global conflicts, and the environment. In contrast to Hung’s deliberate imagery, Kevin Bewersdorf searches online for random snapshots of strangers to use as the basis for his works. He then, ironically, has these highly personal, yet trivial images printed onto mundane objects such as a tray, towel, tie, or box.
Several of the artists have elected to shed light on the internet’s negative affects by way of nostalgia, as they highlight what it has ultimately replaced. This approach is most clearly exemplified by Kristin Lucas’ colorful wax sculptures of obsolete technologies, as well as Michael Mandiberg’s laser-cut paper dictionary and daily newspapers, which have been rendered unreadable as a metaphor for their online alternatives.
Although the possibilities the internet posits have been known for some time—seeing many of its effects, options and quirks gathered in one room punctuates just how far it has advanced our culture, and hints to the future prospects that it surely holds.
Images: Installation view of the future is not what it used to be, 2009; Michael Mandiberg, Old News, 2009; Eva and Franco Mattes (aka 0100101110101101.org), Reenactment of Gilbert and George's The Singing Sculpture - Synthetic performance in Second Life, 2007. Courtesy Postmasters gallery, New York.